News of the Weird by the Editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication

WEEK OF MAY 27, 2012

LEAD STORY -- Laziness Made Us Fat, and Laziness Will Make Us Slim

Dr. Oliver Di Pietro of Bay Harbor Islands, Fla., is a leading prescriber of the "K-E diet" that offers desperate people drastic short-term weight loss by threading a feeding tube through the nose to the stomach and dripping in a protein-fat solution, as clients' only "meals," for 10 straight days. "Within a few hours," Dr. Di Pietro told ABC's "Good Morning America" in April, "your hunger and appetite go away completely." Fat is burned through "ketosis," he said, and a loss of 10 to 20 pounds in 10 days is possible. Such short-term loss might be important, for example, for a woman prepping for her wedding day. One client said she doesn't have "all of the time on the planet" just to exercise, "so I came to the doctor." [Good Morning America via Yahoo News, 4-16-2012]

Government in Action!

-- The late Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha was a Capitol Hill powerhouse, and among his legacies is the federally funded airport in his district that largely served him and the local companies heading to Washington, D.C., to lobby for government contracts. (By contrast, the Pittsburgh airport is nearly 60 miles away.) Murtha died in 2010, but the airport (which cost $150 million in earmarked funds to build, upgrade and maintain) still, according to an April Yahoo News dispatch, handles only three flights a day, all from Washington, D.C., and about $100 of every passenger's ticket is subsidized by the federal government. [Yahoo News, 4-3-2012]

-- Officials in Burnsville, Minn., have brought the full force of the law to bear upon Mitch Faber (who was arrested, forced to pay a high bail, and released under electronic monitoring and only on condition of drug testing), whom they have charged with the crime of not putting proper siding on his house. According to a March report on KSTP-TV, Faber said he started re-siding, but when the economy turned bad in 2008, he stopped, assuming that the worst he could eventually suffer would be a fine. [KSTP-TV (St. Paul), 3-23-2012]

Great Architecture!

-- There are big plans in the city of Chiang Rai, Thailand, for a massive Buddhist temple that priests aim to make one of the most beautiful structures in the world, and have entrusted artist Chalermchai Kositpipat to design it in all-white with glittering glass and arrangements of "rich symbolism derived from Buddhist and Hindu traditions." If Kositpipat has his way, according to an April Huffington Post dispatch, the temple will also have images of Superman, Batman and (from the movie "The Matrix") Neo -- all of which, Kositpipat said, further Lord Buddha's "message." [Huffington Post, 4-26-2012]

-- Architect Sou Fujimoto recently unveiled his public restroom (for women only, though) whose one transparency-enclosed toilet sits in a 2,160-square-foot private garden of cherry, plum and peach trees. The 6-foot-high-walled park is located beside a railway station in Ichihara City, east of Tokyo. Japan is a world leader in fanciful toilets, and Fujimoto said he thought the scenery would enhance the user's "feeling of release." [Japan Broadcasting Corporation via CNET News, 4-14-2012]

The Aristocrat!

Kelly Ervin, 48, was arrested in Salisbury, Md., in April and charged with littering "under 100 pounds." According to police, Ervin routinely goes for a run every morning at 4 o'clock, and just as routinely, has a bowel movement after about two miles. Most days, that puts him in a certain neighborhood, whose residents have been complaining. When questioned, according to a Salisbury Daily Times reporter, Ervin basically shrugged and said he thought many distance runners do the same thing. [Salisbury Daily Times, 4-19-2012]

Police Report

-- In March, Jose Romero-Valenzuela, 34, in a hurry to get to the courthouse in Oregon City, Ore., for a hearing on drug charges, managed to pick up three speeding tickets on Interstate 84, one right after the other within the space of an hour. A sheriff's deputy and two different state troopers charged him with speeds in excess of 92 mph. (Another trooper, specifically monitoring Romero-Valenzuela after the third stop, reported that, finally, he obeyed the speed limit.) [The Oregonian, 3-8-2012]

-- William Todd arrived in Nashville, Tenn., on April 9 via Greyhound bus and faced a nine-hour layover. According to police, Todd committed at least 11 felonies during that time, one after another, with more charges still possible. Among Todd's alleged diversions: shooting up a restaurant, setting it on fire, robbing four people at a bar, carjacking, breaking into a law office and defecating on a desk, trolling hotel rooms seeking theft opportunities, and stealing a taxicab and robbing the driver. Said a police sergeant, "I've never seen anything like this before." He was finally captured at Opryland, where he had hidden by submerging himself in water up to his nose. [WSMV-TV (Nashville), 4-9-2012]

-- Suspicions Confirmed: In March, WTNH-TV in New Haven, Conn., obtained an "internal" police memorandum referencing a challenge from state troopers in one barracks to "outperform" colleagues in another barracks -- in writing traffic tickets. The memo, from Lt. Anthony Schirillo, refers to the need "to issue at least 60 infractions/misdemeanors each shift." "One day Troop F issued 301 tickets. Troop G responded by issuing 345 ... We can do better." "I am asking that everyone, myself included, contribute to this effort." "Note: If we happen to issue 350 tickets in one day that would be stellar." (The station spoke to Lt. Paul Vance of the Connecticut state police, who denied that quotas are given.) [WTNH-TV, 3-29-2012]

-- Crime Does/Doesn't Pay: Convicted embezzler Antoinette Galluzzo, who admitted stealing more than $50,000 from a city youth agency in Englewood, N.J., was ordered in April to pay "restitution," but the amount Judge Eugene Austin settled on was $10 a month -- and only during the period of probation (three years). On the other hand, in federal court in New York City in April, Kerry Haggard, 47, was sent to prison for 6 1/2 years on one count of selling fake movie lobby posters. [Associated Press via, 4-12-2012] [Athens (Ga.) Banner-Herald, 4-10-2012]

Least Competent Criminals

Didn't Think It Through: (1) Eric King, 21, was leaving a store in Eagan, Minn., in February when a police officer in the parking lot noticed his pronounced waddle. King was arrested when the officer found a shoplifted 19-inch television set down his pants. (2) In March, a 34-year-old Lithuanian-born man led police in Wiltshire, England, in a nighttime foot chase after he had aroused their suspicion. Thermal imaging equipment was used from a helicopter to spot the man in the darkness. He was arrested "hiding" face-down in a manure pit. (Though he originally fled, there was little evidence against him, and he was released.) [KSTP- TV (St. Paul), 2-24-2012] [BBC News, 3-30-2012]

Creme de la Weird

"Weekend at Bernie's" -- and More: Thomas Parkin inherited real estate from his elderly mother before she died, but quickly lost it in a risky business venture. To get the deed back, according to New York City prosecutors, he concocted a scheme to pretend that Mom was still alive (it would actually be Thomas in a dress) and still owned the land (and thus that the current deedholder was a fraud). Lawyers arranged a meeting with "Mother" (conducted in a darkened room because of Mom's "recent cataract surgery"), at which she mostly remained silent. Parkin improbably stayed in character, according to a trial dispatch on the Daily Beast, and jurors apparently kept straight faces as Parkin testified that recent "communications" between him and his mother were "mostly one-sided." In May, Parkin was convicted on 11 counts, and at press time, he was awaiting sentencing. [Daily Beast, 4-29-2012]

Recurring Themes

In April, a woman in Switzerland identified as "Anna Gut," in her early 50s, starved to death after trying to prove that she could survive by "consuming" only sunlight, just as had happened to several others before her. An earlier practitioner, Australian Ellen Greve, died in 1999 at age 54 following a short career promoting "breatharianism," subtitled in her books and public lectures, "Liberation from the drudgery of food and drink." None of the ones who have made similar claims and survived have submitted to 24/7 monitoring. [The Local (Stockholm), 4-25-2012]

Thanks This Week to Roy Henock, Susan Quinn, and Sandy Pearlman and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

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